Moving the story forward

Things are moving along nicely, my friends.

In the game, my Hunter is already level 74. Isn’t that crazy?

I have decided to set for myself a new goal. It’s a stupid goal, but it’s one that can’t be ground out, it’s pure luck; to forge a Legendary.

To that end, I’m going to solo Molten Core each week to shoot for either the Eye or the Bindings.

Considering how many times I ran that place in the old days without seeing any of them drop, ever, I’m not all that worried about not getting them.

It’s just fun to have that sense of “Maybe this time? Could be!”

I ran it on my Worgen Warrior this last weekend, and soloed everything in my blues and greens except for Ragnaros himself. Just couldn’t keep myself alive solo. I’m apparently a fail Warrior, I made it to the first submerge and the adds ate me. :(

I had to ask Matheo to step in and heal me… and he said I really am a fail tank, he ran outta mana keeping me alive.

I told him that the reason was probably that I wasn’t in defense stance or tank gear… I was pure Fury Warrior spec and gear. /facepalm.

On the plus side, in one run I almost got all the Cores and Dark Iron I need to craft Sulfuras, and I got the bar and bought the recipe to craft it. My Warrior is a Blacksmith, so it’s fun to think that, no matter who ever eventually gets an Eye, I’ll be able to craft the hammer for it. 

I really wanted to craft one for Fal back in the day, and if I ever do see the Eye, I’ll be thinking of him when it happens.

What kind of impossible or long term goals do you set for yourself? Do you find having some kind of big goal helps keep you interested?

Or do you prefer not having something planned that would be like an itch you couldn’t scratch? Do you like being able to shut the game off and walk away without ever caring that you didn’t finish X goal in your game life?

On the personal side, I don’t have any announcements or anything, but Cassie and I are working on improving and editing Converging Forces, bringing it out of the very rough cut state and turning it into a novel. It’s going to take some more time, but I’m really very pleased with how far we’ve gone already. I’m also learning a lot about writing in the process, Cassie is teaching me a great deal.

She worries that I’m going to get defensive when she shows me things I’m doing wrong in my writing, but the fact is, I’m loving it. It’s wonderful to have someone that I love and trust looking at the story, and telling me “This part is good, but this phrase is unclear, I don’t know what this word is, and what you do to apostrophes is an offense against God and nature. Stop it.”

Seriously, its very positive for me.

The first thing I hear that she tells me is, “This part is good.” I don’t ignore that to obsess about what’s wrong. 

I hear what she’s telling me, that I have things I need to correct to improve my writing. I may have lots of bad writing habits to break, but the core of a story is in there. The most important thing I want to start with is a story that is going in an interesting direction, and characters that you come to care about. I can learn how to fix the rest.

Playing with the Big Leagues

As I continue leveling my Hunter on Azuremyst, it’s certainly giving me a perspective on the game I haven’t had before, or at least in a very long time.

My Hunter dinged level 60 last weekend, and with only a little messing with the Auction House, I had 1007 gold at the moment that little Achievement spam lit up.

That seemed pretty amazing to me, because I had that gold even after paying to learn all the recipes for Jewelcrafting and Mining up to the max levels you could reach before hitting 65.

More than that, though, was running and gunning through old Azeroth without a sugar daddy, or Heirlooms, or any other support except the emotional support I had from my new guildies.

That… and also the benefits of being in a high level guild.

I’ll touch on that again in a bit, but for now I wanted to say that once I hit Outlands, everything changed.

I do not like leveling in Outlands. Northrend will be bearable, but even so, too many alts too recently. Just, do not want.

I’ve reached the point where I have a system that has worked like clockwork to minimize my time in zones I hate.

I do 100% of Hellfire, which is usually good enough to reach level 63. I go to Zangarmarsh, and go directly to Orebor Harbor, where I do every quest that gives Kurenai rep. That should get me to Friendly, and once Friendly and 64 you can get a quest introducing you to the Kurenai in Nagrand. If I’m not quite 64 yet, I’ll go putz around in Terokkar Forest just long enough to ding, and then it’s back to get the Intro to Nagrand quest, and off to Nagrand.

From there, I milk Nagrand for all it’s worth. It’s the only zone in all of Outlands that I still like. In fact, I’ll find myself just hanging out there, tooling around and seeing the wonderful lush scenery.

Blizzard I think could benefit by taking a poll of players concerning our favorite zones… based not just on quest flow or story, but also on mood. On appearance. I’m sure I do NOT represent all or even most WoW players, but I much prefer playing in zones that feel comfortable and healthy. Zones that have a warm and inviting lighting scheme and a feeling of welcome.

Nagrand fits that bill, as does Un’goro Crater and Northern Stranglethorn. Even Duskwood, to a certain extent, is nice once in a while for that dark emo vibe. The wastelands and deserts and plague-ridden marshes, not so much. Again, that’s just me. I’m curious what the results of a poll like that would be.

Anyway, I hit Nagrand and take my time through it, and then it’s time for the tough choices. I’ve done Blades Edge, Netherstorm and Shadowmoon Valley too damn many times. No matter where I go, it’s gonna be a drag.

I think this time I might go to Shadowmoon as soon as I can, and see if I can grind a Drake. I haven’t done that on anyone except my Druid Main during the early days of BC. I haven’t walloped a peon with a Booterang in a long, long time.

Too long.

Getting back to my point, when I hit 60, everything changed.

I didn’t want to grind through Outlands or Northrend. So, I server transferred my 85 warrior over to Azuremyst. Along with him came… yeah, my Hunter Heirlooms. The shoulders, vest, bow, two daggers with Agi enchants, the works. That’s certainly sped things up.

I’m now level 65, and I’m in trouble, because Nagrand is starting to feel tiresome. If I lose my enthusiasm for Nagrand, that doesn’t bode well for any more alts in my future, yo.

Here’s the biggest strange change I’ve had in my playstyle, though.

The guild I’m in on Azuremyst, Band of Misfits, is a very large guild.

Like, large. They’ve got three 10-person raid teams on three different schedules. Some are more aggressive on the calendar than others, but all of them are very successful. The guild is a hair’s breadth away from dinging the last boss kill they need to get the Cata Raiding mount.

They’re also guild level 21. They might even be 22 by now, I was pretty sick last night.

I… I feel strange being in such a high level guild.

On the one hand, the rewards, even if you’re only Neutral on a level 1, are very helpful to you.

If you’re dead, your spirit moves it’s ass. That’s very nice. You’re hearth has a 15 minute cooldown. That’s pretty sweet. You get a bonus 10% XP gain, which I might have liked to have been able to turn off in the old Azeroth world, but that I’m loving now.

Even more… you get +10% to Reputation gains.

Therin probably lies the secret behind my relatively painless Exalted with both Stormwind and Darnassus.

Potentially cooler, if I get in a party somewhere with another guildie, we could summon each other to where we are. I haven’t tested it, maybe there are level limits preventing a guildie in Northrend from joining group with me and summoning my level 65 butt there, but hey… that’s still pretty cool. It’s not just for raiding.

So, lots of nice rewards just for being in the guild and leveling, right?

The thing is, I haven’t done anything to deserve any of these benefits. I still haven’t played with anyone in the guild, I’ve been leveling solo. Sure, someday I will, but not yet. And if I were to leave the guild before I reach 85 and run with them, I’ll have gotten something for nothing.

On the surface, it seems like a strange system.

It does make sense, of course. The benefits help a low level character level up faster, gain rep for rewards needed for raiding faster, and move where needed quicker so as to get in the groove with the other, long established guild members.

The neat stuff that doesn’t actually work to get you into the upper levels faster or help in raids like a quick run speed while dead, things like pets and mounts, require rep with the guild.

What it leaves me wondering, though, are two things.

First, if it’s divided amongst what gets you to the raiding level, and what is a fine but essentially useless perk, then why do the guild-only Heirlooms require guild rep? By the time my Hunter will be able to buy them, she won’t need them. Maybe they’re specifically for your alts in the guild, and alts only. But then why the built-in 10% XP bonus available without guild rep? It’s just wierd. But that’s cool, I can’t afford them anyway, I gotta save for fast flight.

The second thing is, it really does feel as if it’s been solidly thought out for raiding guilds to advance… but for leveling guilds, and friend and family guilds, I can’t really see why the system chokes the guild rep gain so badly based on level. 

I know intellectually that Blizzard has had comments published before, stating that the point is to be part of a large community. To be in big guilds, to take part in what makes the game “Massive”.

I get that.

I also know that there are plenty of folks that don’t WANT that.

What WoW has excelled at, for me, is being a cooperative game.

Sure, I’ve felt a huge thrill at big raids, at the Massive element. I still remember with fondness 40 person raids on Onyxia and Molten Core. Raids so big, in such an early age of the game, that it was nearly impossible to tell who was doing what, or in some cases… who to blame for that massive screw up that wiped the raid.

Moar dots? Whelps? Many whelps? DEAL WITH IT!

But to counterbalance that feeling is the more frequent pleasure of having a game world that you can play in cooperatively, just you and a few friends, or with the significant other in your life.

When you think of WoW, is your mental picture of the game about something that you play with huge gobs of people, is it a solo experience in a huge world, or is it a cooperative game?

For me, when I think of it, the draw has never been to play with gobs of people (gob = new word of the day. It pays to enrich your goofy word power.) It’s been to have a deep, rich, engaging game world to explore cooperatively with my friends and significant other.

Some programs Blizzard has implemented has seemed to reflect an understanding of that. Recruit-a-friend, for example. Come to glorious Azeroth, and bring a friend to play with you!

As much as I like the guild leveling concept, and the rewards are neat, and all that… it makes me sad to feel that the people who play the game in a purely cooperative way with a limited number of friends, friends who may have limited playtime, will never get the chance to experience those rewards.

Guild Levels have been out for a while. I imagine most folks have already made their decision. They’ve chosen to either stay with their small guild and accept no rewards because they don’t raid or play enough, or split and join a larger guild.

I don’t feel that I’ve made that decision, myself. I’ve still got my main characters in our small guild, just Cassie and I. These are new characters in a new land, and I’m doing what Blizzard seemed to want; meeting new people, developing new friendships. All that good stuff.

I’ve never been opposed to meeting new people, making new friends, or being part of a large group. It’s been a lot of fun. Blackbear the Warrior (no, really, I’m serious), Matheo, Hedwig and Crosshair all seem like really nice folks, and I’ve been getting to know some others as well.

I just think it’s unfortunate that when making your decision, it comes down to saying, “You don’t HAVE to join a big guild… but then again, we don’t HAVE to give smaller guilds any benefits, either.”

If this seems particularly unreadable… I am sicker than hell at the moment. It feels like my head is going to explode. And I’m holding crisis at work together as I write this in spurts, so I can’t just leave. I apologize for the blargh.

WoW is just so damn awesome!

I’ve been having just the most incredibly fun time on Azuremyst with my new alts.

Wait, how is that possible? I’ve been playing WoW for years and years and years. How can it still be fun? No, scratch that, how could it possibly be awesome?

Haven’t I heard? All the cool kids are sneering at WoW and going off to play other games that are newer and cooler and better and stuffs!

I had heard a bit of that going around, but I do strongly believe that attitude matters. If you walk around looking for an excuse to feel pissed off, seems to me it doesn’t take long to accomplish that goal.

I’ve never been what you could call pissed off at WoW. I’ve just been adrift, trying to find my center. My happy thought.

I can’t fly if I don’t have my happy thought, damn it.

Well, I’m flying now, baby. Figuratively.

The first thing I’m finding is that I really missed the challenge of being broke. Of being on my own without a big sugar daddy supporting my low level adventures.

I made a Death Knight on Azuremyst, but I got so into my Druid that I never leveled him to 60 to get flying. Just having too much fun, you know? I’m sure glad I didn’t now!

Having only the money that I make myself on low level characters by playing the auction house and gathering has added a degree of challenge that has been long missing, and I’m loving it.

Selling that stack of copper ore for 19 gold 24 silver really feels like I scored! It’s the little things.

The second thing I’m loving is I finally have a clear set of goals.

On my normal server, I’ve got 10 characters, and half the time when I log in, I’d be staring at the list, trying to figure out who to play. Too many characters, too many levels, too much damn history.

On Azuremyst, I’ve got a Fury Warrior that I retired as being too bloody easy to level (sorry, but he is), I’ve got my Feral Druid that is just a gas, and I’ve got this up and coming Hunter that I’m really rocking the place with.

Two characters I’m enjoying… and almost as though it’s a second chance to play the game for the very first time, I’m playing them… but I’m doing it up right this time.

My Druid was the first one to go down the road of “Hey, why don’t I…”.

They added this new (to me) kitty mount to Darnassus Rep a while back; the Striped Dawnsaber. I love that mount. I’ve lusted after it for a low level character ever since Cassie bought one for her Night Elf Druid when we started playing Mage/Druid together.

I never had a chance at that mount for any of MY Night Elf characters when leveling. By the time it was added, my Hunter had the Mammoth and my Druid had the chicken mount from Sethekk Halls.

Now, I can finally have that chance. Even better, mounts scale with your Riding skill, so I can have that land mount I love, and keep using it all the way to 85!

Adding to the fun, neither my Druid nor my Hunter are Night Elves. To get that mount… I need to get my Darnassus rep to Exalted. So if I really want that mount early enough to be fun… I gotta work for it.

What’s that, a challenge? Well, aw shucks.

Having that goal made the game even more interesting for the last week. After all, I have to find two different ways to get that rep, or I’ll burn out doing the same zone quests twice in a row.

I’ve almost nailed that challenge on BOTH.

What I did was, I went back to Teldrassil on my Worgen Druid, and played through all of the quests. I’m in the early stages of Ashenvale, and I’m already halfway through Revered with Darnassus. No problem.

Once I got to that point and knew that my Druid was right in the bullseye, I switched over to my Hunter.

My Human Hunter, having the advantage of Human rep bonuses, didn’t go to Teldrassil right away. Instead, after I got the Darnassus tabard, I started doing Stormwind related zones to get my Stormwind rep to Exalted.

I kept at it until I hit Exalted with Stormwind doing quests… and along the way, the shared rep with the Alliance factions got me 1 point away from Honored with everyone else. I also ran some random instances in PUGs, getting rep from the tabard.

By the time I entered Teldrassil on my Hunter, I was well on my way to Revered, and this evening I had barely set foot in Ashenvale when I dinged Exalted. I got it on my third quest in the zone.

Isn’t she pretty?

I really love the looks of that kitty.

Having this extra challenge I set for myself has really been great. It’s been so exciting to see what it would take to get there, without ruining the quests my Druid is doing.

Speaking of kitties, there was that other thing about my Hunter…

Cassie came through. Well, of course she did.

After one hellaciously long run at level 16 through Stranglethorn getting flight points along the way to Booty Bay and the boat to Ratchet, I made my way over land to that infamous den of mindless PvP, Crossroads.

There, Cassie summoned me a pet that I’ve been proud to have by my side ever since.

Say hello to… Moonshine. :)

It feels very rewarding to play the game this way. I’m not just questing through the zones, I’m using my knowledge of the game, of the zones, of how reputation works, of what rewards are available and what pets are where, to do what I would have loved to do when I first started playing the game years and years ago.

I have a level 31 Human Hunter riding a Darnassus cat with Echeyakee for a pet. It doesn’t get more gigglicious than that.

Yes, that’s a word now. Shush.

What I’m really looking forward to now are the quest zones I have yet to see.

My Hunter and Druid are both poised to quest in zones I’ve never set foot in since the Cataclysm.

Mu Hunter is heading to Hinterlands, and will do the Hinterlands – Western Plaguelands – Eastern Plaguelands – Badlands sequence. I understand that Badlands, in particular, rocks.

My Druid is going to finish out Ashenvale and move further on down Kalimdor, seeing how the land was sundered. I hope there is lots of fun for Alliance to have in Thousand Needles. South Barrens looks crazy!

Honestly, it’s a brave new world. I’ve limited my character options, removed the safety net of lots of max level characters, no longer have Cassie there to “run me through” something on her main if I just want to knock out a quick instance for quests, and have to earn every silver piece I get, for a given WoW value of “earn”.

It’s just like playing a brand new game… fresh and exciting. Except I, like… already know all the secrets and tricks and where everything can be found, and where resources are on the web.

As a side note, and I know this will seem very sudden to some people, but I can no longer be found in the guild Eff the Ineffable.

The folks there are wonderful folks who went out of their way to try and make me feel right at home, and I am very grateful to them for the invitation that brought me out of my Kael’thas shell to try something new. Please don’t believe that I have anything aganst them in any way. I don’t.

But a guild has to be a good fit for both the guild and the people in it, and while the people are great, their goals and mine within the game just aren’t the same.

I hadn’t realized going into it that they had formed the guild as a new place to make a solid go of raiding, and that there had been a lot of worry and sadness recently over what to do to get a guild of people focused on raiding. They are working very hard to get everything right, and from everything I’ve seen a re doing great.

I had been invited by nice folks I knew through Twitter, and I was very glad to go and spend time with friendly people, but in the end, the fact is I’m not a raider. That’s not my focus in the game. It’s not where my cheese is to be found.

I had lots of fun lurking in the guild chat channel… but I wasn’t a contributor to the success of the guild, and I knew that I never would be. I’d be that guy that dings 85, and then moves on to a new alt. Just when I could finally start pulling my weight in the guild and help them do what they want to be doing, I’d be moving on to another alt.  

I know that I could have stayed and been very welcome, and I’m sure nobody would have ever said anything to me about it… but I have to feel that if I am part of something, I am actually a contributing part of it. I have to feel I’m pulling my weight. 

It just wasn’t going to happen. That was, honestly, the single biggest reason I knew it wasn’t going to work out. I’d been thinking about it all week. I did have some minor issues with one person earlier in the day, but it had nothing whatsoever to do with my decision to leave. I’d been thinking about what I should do from the moment I read up about the guild and how it was formed, and realized they were a raiding guild, and meant it.

So, I said my goodbyes and left.

I’ve got some other friends on the server, I’ve been around long enough that I think I know someone on darn near every server in the US at this point. Hedwig and Matheo have invited me to hang out with Band of Misfits, a more casually-oriented guild on the server. They still raid, a LOT, word is they’ve got three raiding teams, and do so very well from what I understand… but from everything I’ve been told, it’s very casual friendly. I’ll be able to contribute to the guild by running light content in 5 person instances, and questing together with folks, or by being an occasional fill-in if someone needs a hand. That’s something I think I can handle. Plus, I won’t have that feeling that if I’m not raiding and helping the guild push through new content, that I’m not doing my part.

There are a lot of very, very nice people in Eff the Ineffable. They’re going to be pretty big stars on the raiding scene, because they have everything they need; a great GM, wonderful guild members, a mature, adult attitude and a determination to succeed. If raiding with good people is what you’re looking for, people who will actually come prepared, looking to succeed or get a punch to the crotch, then Effs’ the guild for you.

I owe the people of Eff the Ineffable a huge debt of gratitude. I may not be a raider at heart, but they brought me in and put me in a situation where I was able to rediscover all the things I love about WoW, and get my gaming groove back on.

When I get home from work now, I’m really looking forward to what I’m going to do when I log in. I’m thinking of the challenges ahead, and of what kind of neat stuff I can get up to in the world of Azeroth. That’s something that was missing for a while, and I knew I had to get an attitude adjustment to find it. I’m glad I’m back in the game.

If you’ve read this far, thank you all very much for your patience, and have a great week.

My own worst enemy

I was reading the latest post by Faeldray at Petaholics Anonymous, and enjoying it immensely, when it occured to me that I hadn’t mentioned one of the key things that had brought back some of my enthusiasm for WoW… and which was also one of the things that had originally killed some of my WoW fun.

And it all had to do with being a petaholic.

I think I mentioned it at the time, that when patch 4.0 came out right before Cataclysm was released, Cassie and I both rolled Human Hunters to enjoy the new quest revamps and changed world.

We also simultaneously rolled Horde characters, both Trolls, to try that new quest zone out and explore the flip side of the coin.

Well, we got ourselves up in level on our Hunters enough that I was struck by a funny thought.

“With both lowbie Horde in Barrens, and lowbie Human Hunters on Alliance, wouldn’t it be neat if our Trolls took turns completing the quest that summons Echeyakee the gorgeous White Lion, and let both Human Hunters tame him? We could be the only level 16s running around in Elwynn with white lions. That would be pretty cool.”

We did that thing. Both our Hunters journeyed to storied Northern Barrens, and we took turns summoning Echeyakee for each other.

I loved that cat. I quested through all of Westfall, Redridge, Duskthingieborezone and ALL of Stranglethorn with that cat on my new Hunter.

I really enjoyed the character in all ways.

But there’s a but. On this blog, how could there not be? A really big one.

When Cataclysm was finally released, it was my level 80 Hunter I leveled first. All the way to 85, and then ran things and got geared, and had a great time.

Along the way, leveling professions and all that jazz, doing the reputation chains… I had a hard time imagining ever leveling the second hunter, what with all of my other level 80s clamoring for leveling attention.

For a few months, the low level Hunter sat, untouched and alone.

I’ve long had every slot on Kael’thas filled, to the point that anything I want to make that is new is gonna end up with a level 50 something dying first.

I wanted to try a Goblin Warlock. I’d never leveled a Goblin yet, hadn’t seen the zone all the way through. Somebody had to go.

The Human Hunter, my only doubled class (except for my Troll Druid on the Horde side) was, logically, the one that had to go.

I deleted my Hunter, and in the process the cat I loved was gone.

After the Hunter was deleted, I realized that the white lion represented more to me than just a pretty pet. It was a constant reminder of a wonderful moment where Cassie and I worked together to accomplish something that had absolutely no effect on being more powerful, or better geared, or higher level… it was something we did just for fun and because we love playing Hunters and we love the looks of that cat, and it was something that was impossible for either of us to do without the other.

It took a week or so to really feel it, but killing that Hunter also killed a good bit of my enjoyment of the game itself.

Well, when I created a few new alts on Azuremyst, one of the things I’ve done is create a new Human Hunter. Different name, slightly different appearance, but in general the same character.

And Cassie, without my saying anything, surprised me this afternoon by telling me she created a Horde character on Azuremyst for the express purpose of leveling to the point that she can summon Echeyakee for me.

So, can lightning strike twice? Will I fall in love with a kitty all over again?

I think so.

I know people have some strong feelings that WoW has changed recently, that it’s no longer fun to play.

For myself, I can’t blame WoW. I blame myself, for bone-headed moves like deleting a character that had, in a short time, come to mean a lot to me.

Blizzard didn’t do that, I did. And if I hadn’t made the Goblin and acted sooner, Blizzard probably could have done something about getting the character back, kitty and all.

Has anyone else out there ever done something like that? Specifically, done something for practical reasons that you later really regretted for emotional reasons?

Hunters and Druids and Fun, oh my! redux

Thank you very much for the wonderful folks that all emailed in so fast to give me a copy of my lost post, which is included below. I dearly appreciate it. Thank you specifically to Mee, Gregory L, Beefeater, Grimmtooth the Great, Bhal the awesome, Adamonius, Darth Solo, Dan M, Steven W and Ben O, the fastest emailers out there.

Again, thank you all very much.


I got an email this morning from one of my favoritest friends in or out of the game, whose name shall remain undivulged because I want to use a cool sounding pseudonym for him. Something like “Deep Throat”, but without the… interesting connotations.

I think I’ll henceforth call him…. “The Admiral”.

Anyway, so The Admiral had sent me an email, and while reading it, I was inspired to write this here post. Because what The Admiral wrote me about was a friend of his that had lost interest in playing his Hunter after the mechanics changes, and instead had found a new love… playing a Druid.

Playing a Feral Druid in Cataclysm

I can completely understand the fascination with a Feral Druid. Especially right now, if you are fortunate enough to start in the ‘right’ zone.

I am playing two characters through the new level 80+ content, my Druid and my Hunter.

I chose, completely arbitrarily, to start my Druid in Vashj’ir, and my Hunter in Mount Hyjal. I didn’t really know anything going into it, intentionally.

I’ve completed both zones now, and in hindsight, I’m insanely happy I chose to set them apart that way.

In Vashj’ir, it’s a Druid’s wet dream. Ahem.

The advantage to both mechanics and feel of having a character with instant cast swimming form in Vashj’ir cannot be overstated.

I never, ever used the seahorse mount in Vashj’ir. There was no point. With the press of a button I instantly become a svelte beastie of destruction, powering through the depths.

Herbing? Let me talk to you about herbing.

I leveled to 525 Herbalism just swimming superfast routes in the last zone of Vashj’ir, swoop in, herb and swoop off. Lots of times, I’d aggro things on the way to the Herb and not care, because I could scarf up that herb and be off before they got to me. 

Being able to fly around and Herb without leaving form in normal zones is nice, but it just feels like awesome to the tenth power to do it in swimming form. As a Druid, the water environment isn’t your enemy, it’s your advantage.

Of course, it need not be reiterated how awesome Bear Bouncing on the sea floor is. :)

Vashj’ir just feels like a Druid dominated zone to me. The other classes may visit, but we own it.

I started messing around in Vashj’ir on my Enhancement Shaman, and while I love the look of the seahorsie, it’s just not the same. Not even close. What, I have to actually dismount to pick something up? Really?

How quaint.

The Hunter side of things.

On the flip side, my Hunter has finished Mount Hyjal, and had a wonderful time doing it.

When the massive class changes came out, I really didn’t play any of my level 80s.  left them alone in favor of new race/class combinations. My single biggest pleasure was leveling a new Human Hunter.

I know a lot of players are dissatisfied with the changes that were made to Hunter mechanics, but I’m not one of them.

I have only ever been a Beastmaster, so of course I can only speak from my limited experience with only one spec. Also, I never really was much of a raider, so the performance at the upper echelons is not something I am familiar with. Please, don’t take this as a “there’s nothing wrong with Hunters so shush” commentary, it’s a statement that ”there’s nothing but awesome for my particular style of gameplay, but your mileage may vary.”

For my Hunter, the single biggest change, to me, wasn’t shifting from Mana to Focus.

It was nice, since I was able to empty my bags of worthless pots and mana food, and I’d never, ever have to worry about forgetting to switch from Viper back to Hawk again. But it wasn’t the biggest change for me.

No, the biggest change was putting the timing of pet threat control directly in my hands, finally.

Kill Command is wonderful.

Before the changes to mechanics, when I sent in my pet to attack, Growl was on auto-cast. In the old days, it served as a Taunt, automatically placing the pet highest on the mob’s threat list when it was cast, just like every player tank Taunt ability. Then, the mechanic of pet Growl was changed to be a hugh threat generating ability, rather than a true Taunt.

I’m sure the idea was, take the power of Taunting off of tanks away from Hunters in random pugs.

How many times did you as a tank experience that? “Could you please take your pet off Growl, he’s taunting off of me. It’s annoying.”

So, a good change. But not the best change. It only went halfway for me.

My core issue with the pet Growl mechanic had always been, the power was taken out of your hands, and placed on an autocast with a cooldown timer, OR you had to leave it shut off and activate it manually. Either a full loaf, or none at all.

Then the new patch changed the mechanics of Kill Command for me.

Now, I can leave Growl on all the time on autocast. It generates high threat for my pet every time it activates, which helps my pet generate more threat than I do over the course of a fight.

But I ALSO have Kill Command at my control, and when I use it, my pet does one hellacious instant CHOMP on the enemy, right when I want him to.

I have yet to see my pet not immediately grab aggro from the mob away from me when I give the command to Kill. And I love it.

I find that, WITH Kill Command, I never, ever use Intimidation. It’s superfluous for my solo play. Kill Command is where it’s at for me.

I don’t even wait for the pet to get to the mob anymore. I use Kill Command and timing to manuever the mob to die where I want it to.

I shoot the mob at range to get it to move towards me, use my send pet/mark target macro to get the pet moving, timed to intercept the mob at the appropriate point, and then at the precise point I want the mob to stop dead in it’s tracks, I pop Kill Command.

The feeling of control over the battlefield this gives me is a pleasure all on it’s own. It’s an illusion, of course, I’m not really in control, mobs could respawn, others cold charge in, etc, but it feels like it.

Even better, my Ferocity pets all seem to have enough health to hold their own JUST FINE against 3 to 4 mobs.

I now use my pets to pave the way clear before me as I race to an objective. You know, like an ore node deep in a cave.

As I went Ore farming in Hyjal, there’s this one cave full of ogres that always seems to have tons of ore.

It’s bloody well infested with ogres, though. I’d say the best solution is to roll in some canisters of VX and drop a boulder over the entrance, but what the heck. I’ll go in. Why not? My pet is badass.

I take that cave at a dead run. 

I’d run in and send the pet after the first mob in front of me to eat some face. I’d keep going, leaving my pet behind, and as I approach the next mob, I’d send my pet after that one as well. My pet would leave the first mob behind and go heading after mob two, and once in range, boom, Kill Command. I’d just keep going.

Four mobs in, and my pet has brought all four mobs to me, I’ve never been hit more than two or three times, I mine the node unbothered by interruptions, and then turn around and help my pet burn all four down to the ground.

No muss, no fuss. Plenty of health to endure.  

Seriously, I’m having a blast. My Hunter is better than ever for me, specifically because I feel that, win or lose, I have all the tools I could possibly want to control the flow of the battle, and keep myself out of trouble.

And don’t even get me started on Trap Launchers and new pets and more pet slots!

Play at your own pace

The new zones I’ve played in, Vashj’ir and Hyjal, are great. They’re very immersive, and have wonderful variation in quests. I liked them both.

I know that folks have been very concerned with the phasing, and how it may affect future replayability on alts. There is a worry out there that, on alts trying to level through the content fast, or on multiple characters that you want different experiences with, that the having the content be phased and require 100% conpletion of the previous quest hub before being able to move to the next will force everyone to have to do everything, all the time.

I can see it, but only time will tell how I feel about it.

What I am enjoying is how much fun, and I’ll be honest, how cute some of the quests are, especially in Hyjal.

I’ve been taking the game at my own pace, exactly as I said I would, and as a result my Druid is barely level 83, my Hunter is level 82, and both are at 0% in Deepholm.

Both are maxed at their gathering professions, but I am taking my time and enjoying the questing.

When I got to the forest fire part of Hyjal, being sent out to save bunnies and squirrels, I was delighted. But those little bastards can MOVE, man.

Then I got to go rescue three Fawns from the flames, and escort them back.

Tell you the truth?

I rescued more Fawns than I had to. And I didn’t revive a Fawn and then mount up and fly like hell back, forcing the little fawn to run like hell through fire to keep up, either. I carefully planned routes to keep the poor little woodland creature out of the fire and away from danger.

I really enjoyed that quest.

Then I encountered the Chuck A Bear quest.

Look, can I take a moment to ask wtf Blizzard is trying to say about me?

First, I run into the ‘go gather bear brains’ quest in Duskwood. Go out, kill bears, and bring back their brains.

Okay, that’s insulting, but then you loot a bear skull, and the tagline says, “This was a bear of very little brain.”

Now they’re sending me up in trees to throw bear cubs at a trampoline. I’m sure it’s perfectly safe.

I’m beginning to detect a trend. Ahem.

Okay, I’m just jealous, I’ll admit it. I wish the type of bear you were sent to kill to harvest brains in Duskwood also dropped flanks of big bear butt, just to make it clear who the bear of very little brain happened to be. That would make me very happy. :)

My point is, I’m taking my time, reading the quest text, and in some cases, I’m simply role playing my way through the quests. I’m not going for number of quests completed in the shortest time, I’m having fun at my own pace and enjoying the game. 

Along the way, I’m having a blast. It’s such a great game, and if there is fault, it’s simply that there is so MUCH I want to do, and I want to do it all right now.

Am I the only one?

How about you? Are you really enjoying the content of the game, exploring the world and the stories within it, taking your time?

Or are you really excited about reaching max level, getting geared up and taking on the end game group challenges together with your guild or your friends?

Or is it somewhere in between?

So Close to Epic… So Damn Close

Do you ever have that moment when you’re reading a book, or watching a movie, or playing a game, and it’s a REAL good book or movie or game, I mean cool as heck, but there’s this one thing that just leaps out at you, an opportunity lost, and you turn to a buddy and say, “Oh man, if they’d just done X, that would have been frikkin’ AWESOME!!!! Next level and then some!”

You know what I’m saying?

What they did is great, you’re really digging it, but this one thing just leaps out at you as an opportunity to go that step beyond, ludicrous speed, and you think, “oh wow, that would have just taken this shit to the next level, y’mean? Word.”

Okay, I’ll stop that. Sorry.

I had that moment today while chatting with Cassie about, of all things, Holy Paladin nerfs.

World of Warcraft is awesome. It’s amazing. They hit the ball right out of the park.

But can everyone be perfect all of the time, and think of EVERYTHING?

Nah. And we shouldn’t expect it. I know I don’t. I face every new challenge with a renewed appreciation for their excellence and imagination.

It’s a damn shame what they did to Old Blanchy.

Maybe in this case they DID think of it. Maybe they had a developer meeting where they weighed the pros and cons, with super awesome on one side, but some other issue on the other I can’t imagine bringing it down. Like limited long term utility maybe, not enough long term bang for the buck.

Because, you know, walking hand pets from max level Archeaology bring so much to the table. Whoops, a little snark backed up there, excuse me. [urp]

Me, as soon as it occured to me, I know if I’d been in a developer meeting, I would have gone for it. No half measures, no wimping out, this would have been my cause célèbre. I would have taken this to the streets, man.

Okay, my habitual teasing without specifics has gotten old, I’m sure. Cut to the chase, Bear, wtf are you talking about?

Three words:

‘Underwater only pets.’

Think about it.

C’mon, if you love anything about Hunters, just give it a second and think about it!

How totally freaking awesome would it be, as a Hunter falling into the deep water of Vashj’ir, your ship destroyed and you about to drown, to survive just by the skin of your teeth? And then, faced with living in this incredibly hostile underwater environment, to be able to tame an underwater swimming pet supremely adapted to thrive in these conditions and trained kill at your command?

Sure, a pet that you can ONLY summon underwater, but there to journey with you as you explore the underwater realms together?

HOW FREAKING COOL would it be to be a Hunter with a trained attack shark?

Or manta rays, or eels, or, dare I suggest it for the US Navy veterans in the crowd, a trained attack SEAL?

And of course, at level 85, I would make sure there would be the search for the ultimate in rare pets…

The rare Shark with FRIKKING LASER BEAMS attached to their heads!

Now, oviously this much awesome has to have limitations. I wouldn’t expect you to be able to summon it on land, for example.

But for the duration of your time underwater, you would have the ultimate killing machine on YOUR side for a change!

It’s not like it would be overpowered, I’d just make it be one of those flavor things, where you wouldn’t HAVE to abandon your favorite pet, but if you play a Hunter that you think of as the ultimate master of beasts, the supreme survivor, able to adapt to and overcome any environment, it would be the bestest.

Can you just imagine almost drowning, being saved, having a water breathing spell cast on you, and then having a nearby Hunter NPC named Mania standing nearby in the cavern, maybe over in the corner still half in the water with her shark near her idly swimming in endless circles, who if you approach and talk to her suggests… (suggests, mind you, NOT gives a quest), that “In an environment as hazardous as this, a smart Hunter learns to survive by taking advantage of the strengths of the local animal population. Oh, and have you met Fluffy, here? My, what big fangs you have, Fluffy! Oh yes you do! You’re just my little snookums, now aren’t you! Oh yes you are!”

(My apologies to Mania if this imagined characterization in any way annoys her. I do not know her well enough to know if she would ever have a pet attack shark named ‘Fluffy’ or ‘Snookums’. It’s nice to think so, though.)

Not a quest, of course, because the completionist within us would then make us want to do it, regardless of whether we ever want to tame another pet besides our beloved Snookums or not.

No, just a suggestion, almost like an easter egg, that maybe you might have something new you could try in this all new type of zone, if you really wanted to.

It would be a fun change of pace, it would feel incredibly true to the class and environment, and then once you leave Vashj’ir, you return to using other styles of pet that can, you know, breathe air, since while there ARE land sharks on shore, they generally come with rum drinks and the smell of tanning oil.

But when the time comes to do the Rock Lobster daily cooking quest in Stormwind, well, you’d have got a pet on hand to protect you while you swim around opening lobster traps under the docks. Right?

It would have been so incredibly epic, you know?

Blizzard’s developers can’t possibly think of everything, although they come damn close. This is just one little thing I certainly do wish would have made it.

I would have had a Hammerhead Shark pet named “TheStig”, renowned master of the hammerhead.

The hunt still quickens the blood

I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time on my Orc Fury Warrior lately.

Cassie and I had been playing our Druid and Mage combo a lot, and then I thought it might be fun to let the rested bar fill up a bit before we moved past Hellfire. We’re at level 64, and we’re going to leapfrog from Hellfire directly to Nagrand. Since we’re on Alliance side, we did the bare minimum three quests in Orebar Harbourage to get on speaking terms with the Kurenai, and then we sat down to chill.

Queue in our individual pursuits.

Cassie resumed her own Draenei Fury Warrior on another server, while I picked back up with my Orc.

My Orc is kinda my “finish all the little stuff I never did in Vanilla” guy.

At this point, I’m really happy with all the stuff I’ve done. My Druid did just about every quest there was Alliance side, and the only thing on that side I always intended to do someday that didn’t get done was getting a Wintersaber kitty to ride. Blizz assures us they’ll still be there, so maybe next year. :)

On Horde side, though, there are Venomhide Raptors in Un’goro Crater that you can raise from an egg over the course of twenty days.

My Orcs been doing that, I’m on day 14. I might just make it in time.

I love how, every five days the little guy grows a bit more. As a tiny little baby I thought he was just sooo cute, but on day 6, wow! Adorable! On day 11 he kinda grew up into a mini-raptor pet, so my baby is almost all grownded up. :(

At least this kid I’m gonna put to work once he’s past his teens!

Besides that, I’ve been fiendishly leveling to hit 69. At 69, I get to finally grab Titan’s Grip… and equip those TWO Bloodied Arcanite Axes that I’ve now got in my inventory. Thanks to the Argent Tournament, of course. :)

I don’t really care if I ever get beyond level 69. All I want is to be able to brandish those two massive axes, one in each hand, and roar in a fierce manner on the loading screen. That’s all. After that, as Mater might say, “Okay, I’m good.”

Hey, didja hear that they’re doing a second full release Cars movie? Sweet! I know, right?

So, Orc leveling.

I’m sad to say that I blew through Hellfire and Nagrand in two nights, plus some last minute Netherstorm questing, and my Orc is now level 68 in Borean Tundra.

I’m sad, because what’s the rush? But I really don’t care about those in-between levels! I’m on the hunt for twin two-handers, damnit! AXES! NOW!

In other news, I hadn’t realised they’d changed the Cold Weather Flight training soit wasn’t a Bind on Account book anymore. You can’t buy it for another character, it’s training like any other… but it’s purchasable at level 68 directly now, for 500 gold.

I’m kinda sad, I have more gold on Alliance side, I was hoping my Druid could buy the book and mail it to the Orc, saving me the hassle of Neutral AH gold swapping. Blech.

Now, you might think the title of the blog refers to the hunt for level 69. Nah, that was just synchronicity.

While my Orc was tooling around Netherstorm, flying over towards the undead city in the southeast corner, Cassie stopped me and said, “Hey! What’s that?!?” and pointed into the distance at this tiny flying purple blip.

I fly closer, and find that she’d spotted this beautiful rare purple chimaera named Nuramoc flying in the netherspace between islands.

Hmmm. I browse Mania’s website Petopia ALL THE TIME and I don’t recall seeing a purple chimaera before. Lemme check.

Why look, it’s the only purple one currently in the game! How neat.


You know, I have this Hunter, and she likes shiny pretty pets… even ones with twin mouths full of razor sharp fangs.

Oh, why the heck not.

Off I went, logged out one character and back on my Hunter, and off I went to hunt for the elusive Nuramoc, who is listed as flying pretty damn fast.

I’ll cut this short by saying, yes, I did find and capture Nuramoc for my pet stable, but that sucker led me for one heck of a hunt. I knew he was potentially out there somewhere… and I covered most of the square footage of Netherstorm until I found him!

It’s amazing how, even after all this time, hunting for that super rare spawn can really quicken the blood, isn’t it?

With all the news Mania has been sharing lately about all the wonderful new pets available with a tameable Ghostcrawler being just the tip of the iceberg, Cataclysm is gonna be one wild ride for the pet-loving Hunter, isn’t it?

I can hardly wait!